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What does it take to be a leadercommunicator?

The Grossman Group CEO and communications expert David Grossman shares his insights on the importance of meaningful leadership communication in today’s business climate. With high level tips on engagement and connection, insights into employee motivations and behavior, and firsthand stories from the frontlines of America’s leading companies.

The leadercommunicator blog is instructive, entertaining, and a must-read for leaders, communicators, and leadercommunicators.

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How Well Are We Listening? What We Can Learn from Social Media


Social Media CollageMany of us probably don’t want to admit it, but the fast and furious social media takeover has called attention to how much (or how little) listening we’ve been doing.

This ubiquitous digital uprising has forced even the most self-aware and proactive in our ranks to step back and reflect on our communication habits. Don’t get me wrong; many of us were already sensitive to the collective consumer, employee or communal voices around us well before social media came along. But when it did, we were again reminded of how active a role the seemingly passive art of listening plays in the overall communication paradigm. And even more pronounced than the effects of listening are the effects of not listening.

I should offer a disclaimer right now that this post is neither a giant endorsement of nor diatribe against social media, so please bear with me. It’s more about how the various networks out there have provided leaders with a perfect microcosm from which to learn and grow as communicators. In particular, these networks have highlighted a few distinct and far-reaching lessons: 

  1. You’re not speaking in a vacuum—even if it sometimes feels that way. And it will feel that way, if you’re not inspiring or facilitating dialogue.
  2. Interesting and engaging content is still king. Passion, emotion, insight, observations, relevance, intrigue, details… these are the core components of storytelling, and storytelling is the basis of winning communication. No matter what the vehicle.
  3. Communication takes shape in the form of dialogues, not monologues. Those who do well in the social media sphere are generally those who engage with their networks rather than talk at them. This is also true of employees and the world at large.
  4. Conversations are inevitable, so get involved. As I frequently say, you are always communicating… even when you’re not communicating. So why not do so thoughtfully and purposefully?
  5. If everybody’s talking and nobody’s listening, all you’ve got is a lot of noise. The easiest way to lower the volume is to talk a little less and listen a little more.

Which of the lessons above could have the most positive impact on how you lead and communicate?

-- David Grossman         




To answer your question - number 5. The Twitterverse is designed for people to yell. If everyone is yelling, is anyone listening? 
By listening, you can at least yell back strategically - although for most situations, I would advise against yelling at all.
Posted @ Tuesday, September 11, 2012 11:20 AM by Adrian
Hi David. For me the biggest lesson leaders can take from social media is that it's ok, and indeed expected, that you won't have all the answers. 
Social media has the ability to open up strategy making, both to those lower down the ranks and to customers and other stakeholders. 
All of these people often have a better idea of what's happening at the coal face than leaders in the boardroom do. If leaders can overcome their hubris then it can see great things emerge. 
As an example, Dell IdeaStorm opens up the old school suggestion box to anyone. Dell have reported that the ideas generated by people outside the company have generated around $300 million in revenue. 
A pretty good indicator of what's possible with a bit of humility.
Posted @ Wednesday, September 12, 2012 2:55 AM by Adi Gaskell
Thanks for sharing, Adrian. I agree with you that yelling is never the right way to communicate. Social networks such as Twitter provide everyone an opportunity to share their thoughts and sometimes it’s the case that people are talking more than they are listening. Taking the time to hear what others are saying and engaging in two-way communication improves how effectively we communicate.  
Adi, thanks for sharing the example about the Dell IdeaStorm—what a great concept. You make a good point and one that leaders everywhere could learn from—that employees, customers and stakeholders have valuable insights into their companies, which leaders may miss. These insights can greatly impact (and often improve) the business—like your example from Dell.
Posted @ Thursday, September 13, 2012 8:54 AM by David Grossman
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